Potatoes

My crush texted me out of the blue the other day. After days of stopping myself from sending him that funny meme, or just randomly asking him a question out of the blue, or persuading him to run away to the ends of the earth with me, my heart fluttered and the butterflies I had choked to death in my stomach were reincarnated. Sometimes it amazes me just how pathetic I am.

And then, in the middle of calculating just how long I should take to reply back to him so I don’t look too interested and also ensuring he doesn’t lose interest (something which I will never figure out because I am a dork without game),  I got super nervous. On top of that, I was trying to be funny, and smart, and a combo of Midge Maisel, Beyonce and Amal Clooney. So the morsels of brain power in my little head were completely engaged and my responses to his texts were pretty much potatoes. I have been internally screaming going over the conversation and mentally kicking myself with the elegance of Messi.

I cannot, for the love of our father who art in heaven, understand why I pressurise myself to the point that my brain has a muscle spasm and all I can think of and say are the different ways potatoes can be cooked. Mashed Potatoes. French Fries. Poutine. Tater Tots. What excellent boiled potatoes, many years since I’ve had such an exemplary vegetable.

I cannot post a screenshot of the conversation here because I want to protect its sanctity, but I promise you, I said some of the dumbest things imaginable, properly balanced in the art of meanness and stupidity. Like rotten potato salad. A Pringles box crushed to powder after the delivery truck was looted and set on fire and the thieves had an accident with the police car chasing them. Like Hash Browns still frozen in the middle, despite cooking them for the time given on the box.

And I don’t even like this guy that much. With our differences in life, I know for a fact we would be terrible together and the possibility of him not breaking my heart is as remote as the far side of Pluto. But the detestable part of my soul that wants his attention, the insecure part of my being that wants to be desired above all despite knowing it will need to naught, it takes over the wheel sometimes and we go steering straight into the iceberg. Potato Wedges. Gnocchi. Rosti. Crispy Smashed Roasted Potatoes with melted cheese, oh yes please.

And now I want him to text me again, just so that I can show that I’m not as dimwitted as I came across before. Or so goes the lie I tell myself.

© That Girl in the Fray, 2019.  All rights reserved.

On Falling for Assholes

Yes, this post is exactly what you think it is. It is me crying about how I always fall for the wrong kind of person and then blame myself for (a) falling for them despite knowing better and (b) not being good enough for them to feel the same way (oh yes, I just admitted that out loud. That is exactly what my brain tells me.)

Why do I classify my type as “assholes” you ask? Well, that is a great question, which I will answer in a unnecessarily complicated way to fit in my life story and how I want my opinions to be vindicated, because deep down my nonchalant exterior, I oh so crave to be accepted and understood. (I’m writing this post in a bit jet lagged sleep trance, so things are about to get super confessional. Hence, ladies and gentlemen and all my homies out there who prefer no gender labels, bring out your popcorn and pull up a comfortable chair.)

So, I don’t really fall for guys that often (which makes people question my sexual orientation, and frankly, they can all just go to hell for being judgmental pricks confused about their own lives and choices so the rest of us on earth can live peacefully and love whomever). I mean, years could pass and I wouldn’t even have a crush on someone who is a living breathing human being, rather than a fictional character from the pen of Jane Austen. That’s just who I am and who I’ve been.

But whenever I did have a crush on someone, lord, it was all of heaven and earth colliding into a roller blading disco dance with nothing else in sight. That’s just who I am, the extreme kind. I’m Marianne Dashwood to the core, with a hint of Mary Bennet around the edges. I go all in with no care in the world, but I am also an introvert who doesn’t really do well in social situations, so go figure the conundrum that is my soul. (Why does my life revolve around wanting mutually exclusive things that will never ever ever happen? The curse of a dreamer, the bane of a fool. )

So, I call the type of boys I fall for “assholes” because they love playing games. While I’m looking for Tuck Everlasting, or maybe even Tuck lasting for a couple of months, they’re just in it for the thrill of it I guess. And the worst part is, I know all of this. Having experienced it all, now, I try to force myself to stay away from these ultra short narratives that will only end in tragedy.

And yet, I find myself wanting to text him again, praying to see his name pop up on my phone, despite knowing that the text would only cause me pain at my feelings not being reciprocated with the same intensity. Despite knowing the fact that me texting him will do nothing but satiate his ego at having my heart in the palm of his hand to crush and shatter to dust. And all this while, his heart is excalibur shielded in stone, as is his will to resist eating the chocolate chip cookies I left for him after lunch. (This is my Waterloo on a loop; this is not the first time this is happening.)

And then, at times, pops up the asshole you avoid right from the beginning. You avoid him and his charm like the plague, until his attention towards you becomes a drug. And you begin to give meaning to his thousand times a day glances, and how he always finds a way walk next to you in a crowd of people. You get comfortable with the way he makes you feel, all this time wondering if it is the guy you like or just the attention he is giving you. You decide to throw caution to the wind and give him a chance to see where this thing goes, and boy, that is where it all goes to hell. You did it again, despite promising to guard your soul and protect your heart.

On a brighter note, since this is not the first time your heart has been broken by an asshole, you know you’ll get over it and discover the magic of the moon again. And I’m wondering how unfit a writer this change in the narrative voice makes me. But, this is me, the unshielded, make up free, no eyebrows version. And sometimes, accepting the mess you are helps you breathe easy.

© That Girl in the Fray, 2019.  All rights reserved.

(one of the assholes thinks this copyright warning is useless)

 

The Long Absence Explained

The best way to explain my absence would be to publish all of the half (and mostly less than half) written posts I’ve attempted to scribble. Nothing felt good or right, neither do these words; I’m half a second away from sending this post to the black hole that is the draft folder.

This blog is pretty much a secret. Almost no one who knows me in real life knows about its existence. I’m flattering myself in a way by saying this, because in all honestly, no one would give a shit about it anyway if they knew.

The reason why I keep this blog and my words away from my real life, is because this has always been a refuge for me in the rain. I love the freedom of writing my deepest and darkest secrets, the parts of me I’m not too proud of, of not having to explain why I wrote what I wrote. It brings me peace like nothing else does.

Pardon the pandering, I’ll get back to the point. I’m going through a difficult time right now, and have been for a long while. And as always is the case with me, I’m alone through it all. I feel too unconnected to everyone in my life right now to reach out. I’m so uncomfortable around everyone that I don’t see the point in causing myself the pain of… opening up. Opening up requires vulnerability, trust, faith, hope, courage. I can’t find any of these in me.

Sometimes it saddens me when I look at my phone, especially in moments when fear overwhelms me so much that I forget how to breathe. When I look at my phone and there is no one I would like to talk to in such testing moments. In moments when the sky bursts open and there is thunder like I’ve never known. When everything falls apart, and so do I with it. I know by keeping all this pain to myself, I’m piercing myself with my own shield, but I feel so helpless.

And hope, that four lettered word that keeps us alive, that oxygen to our lungs, that blood in our veins… it has just disappeared for me. I tore it to pieces and threw it away in the wind. Had I thrown it in a recycling bin, at least I would know where the pieces are, and have a chance at taping it up. But it’s gone. I have no idea where.

I realise this still doesn’t explain why I haven’t been posting anything. It’s because I felt that whatever I say won’t really matter to anyone. No one would understand my pain. Or just how choked up with fear I am at the moment. How the stress is hurting my body visibly. Because I felt talking about failure would be more failure. Addressing my brokenness will only bring more ruin.

But, I’m me.

I need to write.

I need to pour out what has been simmering in me for so long,

even if no one understands it.

Dear Diana

Living in pain for long,

should make you numb; or stronger,

for you aren’t dead. But it doesn’t. It didn’t; I’m

split into two, living in two parallels. Where

Jekyll and Hyde hate each other, and

tumble in the contradiction of how I

want to live and die at the same time.

And the peaceful blue of the sky

is forever a lie; for I

fail at lying or deceiving everyone, including

myself that things

would be okay.

 

© That Girl in the Fray, 2019.  All rights reserved.

The Land of Eternal Summer: Winter

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while now, but somehow the words coming out of me seem to be rotten. Like my core is shaken and something is amiss. Maybe it’s just in my head or maybe, or rather more likely, what I’m writing these days is pretty much chaotic garbage.

So what’s new in the Land of Eternal Summer? Well, for one the rain is over and the stars are back for me to gawk at every night. And even on days like today when there are clouds floating in the night sky, like smoke on a stage scene from Midsummer Night’s Dream, I find myself humbled for the piece of sky that I do get to wallow at before the haze takes over. Right the second before the shimmer of the stars is enveloped in mysticism and enigma.

It’s summer here but winter never leaves me. I think I carry it with me, along with my inability to function normally. Maybe I’ve absorbed it in the deep crevices of my soul. Maybe it’s a part of my bones now. For I cannot keep it at bay for too long ever.

The other day I wrote in my diary that all there seems to be in life is to stand and watch things fall apart. All we do is build sand castles too close to the ocean no matter how hard we try not to. And then, all we can do is put it back together, fix it, bear the disappointment, and wait for it to fall apart again. And fix it again. And watch it be swept away again, only to come back and build it up from the ruin.

© That Girl in the Fray, 2019.  All rights reserved.

The Land of Eternal Summer: Berlin Wall

I sit here at 1:39am, a little spooked but mostly amazed at how it’s possible for me to do this: to sit past midnight in front of a piece of history that has seen blood and guns and metal.

But it has also seen love. Or the possibility of it. Or the vaguest hope of it. The faintest illusion of it.

I stop walking to confirm that the sound in this deserted park is the echo of my footsteps. And it is.

The wall looks weathered than before. And if I’m not punished to say it, uglier than before. Because it was what I was staring at when I was thinking of things I don’t want to think about again. Of how I let myself be so vulnerable in that moment. How I was open and true and all my colours were spread apart. How open I was to allow my soul to be seen. Which is why I got hurt.

The sky is murky. Dirty. Barely a few stars are visible in the grey. Yet I’m happy I came back here. I can’t let them cut my hair again.

© That Girl in the Fray, 2019.  All rights reserved.

Circle

White walls, white buildings, white clouds, white sky

the familiar tune a stranger whistles passing by

through the twists and turns of this city that I know like the back of my hand,

as I rebuild on the edge of the water the castles of sweat and sand

right after the water has ruined it,

our burden as humans to build and watch it be destroyed

only to build it again and watch it fall.

 

© That Girl in the Fray, 2019.  All rights reserved.

 

 

 

Don’t Let My Memories Lie

Let me unravel you, inch by inch, piece by piece. I’ll do it without a hint of my fingers, without a slip of my tongue.

For it is an illusion, the you that I think you are.

Let me let go of the essence of you that I carry around, the you I want to see. The you I think I see. For you’re too precious to be distorted by my notions.

Let’s start at the white empty space; you command it. You can paint it in all the colours you want. You can burn it if you like, I give you that authority. It is yours, as am I of now.

All I want you to be, all I need you to be, all I demand you to be, is just be. That is all that I will ever desire after this point.

That’s how it all started, and if it has to end, if it will end, I won’t let it be a dream. I won’t let it be an idea of an idea, the moonshine at night or the stars that lie.

As I breathe the air of you, as I caress the hidden corners of you, I emboss it in my memory. And I don’t want it to be a lie.

 

Midnight

the world is black and variants of white,

with the immensity of the immense silence gulping,

chewing, swallowing and then spitting out

echos, carried on for miles along,

confusing the passerby about where the music is playing.

I’m just a hollow sentience in this soiree,

gnawing, scratching and bruising

every surface my toes touch.

I’m atop the highest tower, but I forgot why.

Did I climb up to stare at the lights,

that look like a million burning suns

almost choking on the immense night?

Or did I come here to see how long before

the red in me is engulfed by the velvet darkness,

right below me, with its soothing siren song?

Why is there an ache where my heart resided?

Why does it feel like a war was recently fought?

Is this why I feel so empty?

Is this why I’m weightless?

Can I fly if I jump?

Will it hurt if I fall?

 

© That Girl in the Fray, 2019.  All rights reserved.

Love and Hate- Chapter 1

T. checked her wrist watch and was on the verge of a panic attack. Her classes at the university were about to begin in 30 minutes and she was still left with a shitload of drafting for her boss at the law firm. The offices were completely deserted at this hour before 8am and except the watchman, a single soul was not present at the office. This was her favourite time of the day, as the evenings were full of grumpy middle age men snorting and snoring or cribbing, whatever pleased their ego.

T typed as fast as her fingers allowed, trying not to let the panic freeze her brain as it usually did. It took her another 15 minutes to proofread the petition she had been working on, set her boss’ schedule, print his cases for the day and leave it at his desk, while briefing his clerk about the same, whom she met in the hallway while sprinting to her outdated Volkswagen. She had been working at the legal offices for almost a year now, although the anxiety of rushing to her early morning classes remained the same.

She prayed for no traffic blocks, speeding the entire way to the university, then sprinting up three flights of stairs, coughing furiously when she reached the top. She thought to herself how badly she needed to join a gym and cut down on her daily dose of cheese burgers at her college canteen. She almost skidded and hit her Jurisprudence Professor on the way, narrowly avoiding it and stood at the closed doors of her classroom for Constitution. She checked her watch; it was past 8:30am and she knew being allowed into the classroom was a miracle. Which is why she wasn’t allowed to enter, in addition to the dirty look shot at her by Mrs. S.

She slumped her way to the library, repenting another early class she had missed, the 3rd time this week. She was about to stow her bag in the locker when a text from A. buzzed her phone.

“Coffee.” It said.

“How did you know I missed class again?!” T texted back, picking up her bag and walking towards the college grounds.

“You rushed past me 10 minutes ago. I didn’t even bother going.”

“Why didn’t you stop me?!”

“Like you would have listened.”

T smiled despite of herself and walked into the canteen. She spotted A sitting at their usual spot, right next to the glass window that overlooked the overgrown college garden and broken fountain. She was reading a novel, bending its cover with one hand and sipping machine coffee with the other. The canteen was full of students stuffing breakfast or working on their overdue projects.

T threw her bag at A’s face and glared at her.

“What??!” A screamed back at T, although she was unable to control her laughter. “I felt you needed the exercise.”

“Thanks.” T croaked back.

“Shitty coffee?”

“Why not.” A walked over to the counter and got T a cup.

“This job at the law firm is killing me.” T took a long swing of the too hot coffee, letting it burn her throat.

“Mrs S is going to kill you if your job doesn’t. This is the 3rd time this week you missed her class.” A got back to her book. She had the rare ability to carry on a conversation while reading.

“I know. I’ll talk to her. The murder trial is today. I had to finish proof reading the written statement from last week.”

“You should draft one from Mrs S’ side for when she is on a murder trial for killing you. There’s a chance she won’t fail you in her assessment, like she’s planning to.” A crumpled her empty paper cup with one hand and shot it across the room into the bin. She did not miss.

“And why are you not in your class?”

“Mrs F. is on maternity leave.”

“Again?”

“Yes, judgy. Didn’t know she needed your stamp of approval to have her 3rd child.” A rolled her eyes.

“Fine. What are we reading this week?”

“The Fountainhead.” A placed her yellow half torn copy on the table for her friend to see.

“Again?”

“Didn’t know I needed your stamp of approval for my reading choices. I’ll be careful next time, your highness.”

T shook her head. She pulled out a copy of her Intellectual Property assignment and began skimming the pages.

“I’ve got news.” A began. She tucked her book in her bag and folded her arms, her face expressionless.

“You’re scaring me, A.”

“My father’s boss, Mr X. Do you remember meeting him at my parent’s 25th Anniversary last month?”

“Yes.”

“Do you remember the son he mentioned? The one who lives in New Jersey? Well, he’s visiting here next week, with a couple of his friends or workmates or something. They’re closing a deal on some acquisition of some kind, the details went over my head when dad explained it to me on the phone last night.”

“That doesn’t seem too bad.”

“He wants me to take him out, show him the city.” She frowned.

“And that’s a problem, because?”

“Because it’s awkward. And weird. And I don’t want to do it alone. Can you pretty please help me out?” A put on her best puppy dog face.

“As long as it doesn’t involve late nights. You know how paranoid my mother gets and I don’t want to get into another fight with her.”

“Please T. Help me out. You can stay at my flat at night when we plan that. I’ll talk to your mother, you know she loves me.”

“That’s because she thinks you’re some sort of good influence on me. Ugh. If only she knew.”

“Whatever it is, I can’t plan anything if you’re not on board. Could you please help me out? This is our last year together, we need to be making memories we can tell our kids about. I promise it’ll be fun.”

“Okay fine. You’re going to get me out of this thing with Mrs S. I don’t really get why everyone who hates me is so much in love with you.”

“T, your mother doesn’t hate you.”

“If you only knew.”

© That Girl in the Fray, 2019.  All rights reserved.